GMT -5 hours
A charming island of palm-fringed beaches and colonial-style architecture
This small Dutch Caribbean island lies just 18 miles off the coast of Venezuela. Here, you can enjoy the picture-perfect palm-fringed white sand beaches of the south, dramatic landscapes of the north and the wild scenery that inhabits the middle of the island, spreading out to the west. A unique cultural melting pot of people, languages and cuisine, Aruba has plenty to offer.
- You'll find the finest beaches on the south and west coasts – powder soft sands and calm waters
- Head to the east for the rugged Windward coast with its limestone coves and desert scenery
- Head to Ariok National Park for hiking trails to witness abandoned gold mines, ruins and ancient paintings and fossils
- Below the hurricane belt in the Southern Caribbean, Aruba benefits from year-round sunshine
- Stroll around Oranjestad to take in the unmistakingly Dutch colourful colonial buildings
Best time to visit Aruba
Aruba is warm all year, with an average temperature of 24-29°C.
Aruba holiday highlights
Aruba is an exotic paradise located deep in the southern Caribbean Sea. Although the island is just 20 miles long, it has plenty to offer – from secluded beaches, natural rock formations and coral-encrusted shipwrecks to chic resorts, adventure sports and glitzy casinos. The pristine beaches and year-round sunshine make Aruba a popular destination for both families and honeymooners looking for a mixture of adventure and relaxing island bliss.
Originally a fishing outpost for Amerindians from the Arawak tribe, the island has changed hands a number of times. Switching between Spanish and Dutch rule, it is now a member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (The Netherlands Antilles). Today it is influenced by more than 90 nationalities and this is reflected in the colourful architecture and eclectic cuisine found across the island – a fusion of Caribbean, South American and European dishes.
The typical Aruban beach features wide white bays lapped by cerulean seas backed by intimate and stylish resorts and superb all-inclusive properties that offer excellent family-friendly activities. The sheltered south and west coasts are home to the island’s finest beaches. Some of the most idyllic in the world, here you’ll find calm, inviting waters.
To the south is Eagle Beach, Palm Beach’s more relaxed neighbour. Renowned for pristine white sands, you can choose from a selection of fantastic resorts set on this beautiful beach. The adults-only Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts Aruba (p91) offers a romantic and secluded setting as well as exceptional dining. Alternatively, the intimate and stylish Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa (p91) is perfect for those looking for a relaxing and rejuvenating holiday.
To the east, you will find the rugged Windward coast. Home to stunning limestone coves and desert scenery, this wild coast is well worth a visit. Although it’s unsuitable for swimming due to the strong current and thundering waves, it’s incredibly scenic.
The incredible 7,907 acre Arikok National Park that encompasses almost 20% of the entire island showcases diverse geological landscapes, provides a sanctuary for native flora and fauna, and affords a glimpse into Aruba’s rich past. Follow hiking trails and pass abandoned gold mines, plantation house ruins and ancient Arawak paintings and fossils. Discover an island desert strewn with cacti and divi-divi trees before exploring the shadowy caves beneath your feet. If all this sightseeing under Caribbean rays leaves you a little hot and bothered, get back to nature with a dip in the refreshing Natural Pool before returning to your beachside resort.
From the instant that you set foot in the capital of Oranjestad, you’ll discover that it is undoubtedly Dutch in its origins. Named after the Netherlands’ first king and the first heir to the House of Orange, William of Orange-Nassau, the city features colourful colonial buildings covered in intricate carved wooden detail and traditional Dutch tiles.
The local’s legendary hospitality pervades through the streets of the town, exemplifying the highlights of an Aruban escape. Chic bars, cafés and duty-free shops can be found in the town’s malls and on the marketplaces and plazas, overlooking the charming marina.
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